for years, you smoked camels,
until your lungs were harmonicas wheezing,
sharp whistles that tugged you from sleep
the way thunder startles children.
but dark growths were settling deep and sprouting,
tumors like peach pits taking root.

nests of your hair floated in warm bathwater like
algae photosynthesizing quietly beneath the surf
and i fished it out while you watched,
inaccessible in your checkered robe.

now, your shaved head and stubbled chin feel foreign.
with my nose in the cradle of your collarbone,
i see a wintry field and corn husks wilting;
in your swollen nodes, i see cherries hiding under frost,
stems curved and nodding with your pulse.

but i know this ground;
i’ve scaled it intimately, smelled raw seeds beneath the
ground and
i ask for one more year, one more red of autumn to pepper the
dying lawn.
with each spasm of waking and drift into sleep, you fade,
until that spring morning when a thin film will pale your
like spiderwebs against an orchard fence.